Licensed to Kill

Reports in the embedded mass media of "Iran-backed militias" attacking the US embassy in Baghdad gave the federal government a license to assassinate a popular Iranian general and his entourage as the party was leaving the Baghdad airport. We can only guess whether the killings would have occurred if the media had made any sort of critical examination of the "Iran-backed" characterization.

Reporters and editors might have asked, for instance, whether there is any such thing as an unarmed militia. Millions of viewers saw live video of the crowd assembled outside the embassy. Nobody was armed. There was some stone-throwing, and there were some soldiers in fatigues, but they weren't carrying weapons. What we saw was a crowd of men, mostly young, waving flags and vandalizing the building, something like the crowds of what the embedded mass media call pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong.

As for Iran's part in the protests, that nation's government denies involvement, and reporters are offering no evidence to support the US government's accusations. In view of the record of the US government for dishonesty--see recent coverage of the lies told to maintain the state of war in Afghanistan, lies systematically fed to us by our media--news-consumers are entitled to some provenance for the imprecise, even misleading charge of "Iran-backed." If there is no support for such an allegation, a responsible news editor should say so.

News-mongers aren't telling us where they got the "Iran-backed militias" phrase, but it's universal jargon among them, suggesting a common source. Also universal was the acceptance of the phrase as truthful. That would put it in the same category as Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons, imminent victory in Afghanistan, Syria's repeated poison gas attacks, Putin's influence over US elections, and Jeffrey Epstein's suicide, among other widely publicized untrue assertions.

There's been some criticism of the Baghdad assassinations, but not on legal, ethical or factual grounds. Rather, all the criticism has centered on the danger created by the killings. It's not that it was wrong or illegal or a rush to judgment to kill ten people 7,000 miles away, but rather that it will increase ill will toward the USA and make certain parts of the world inimical to Americans. From the standpoint of the people who initiated the group assassination, the media coverage guarantees that none of them will be held accountable. News-consumers, if we knew the truth, might expect to pay some price ourselves for our leaders' malfeasance, but it will be a nice surprise for us all when it comes, thanks to our cherished free press.